Morrisons reports £27m direct Covid-19 costs

Morrisons has revealed £27 million worth of direct pandemic-related costs in the first quarter of the year.

The money was largely lost to an absence of employees and an increased number of marshals during the first few weeks of 2021, when coronavirus case numbers were high, and the country was still in lockdown.

The British supermarket said that the loss was in line with its expectations announced in its profit guidance for the year.

Total sales for the chain were up by 5.3 per cent in the first few months of the year, boosted largely by a 17.5 per cent rise in fuel sales, which nearly hit pre-pandemic levels.

Online sales grew by 113 per cent over the same period.

The company said that pre-tax profits and exceptionals for the year will be higher than the £431 million it would have achieved last year, had it not waived the £230 million business rates relief.

" We said back in March that we expected to grow profits and reduce debt in the current year and I'm pleased to be both reiterating that guidance today and looking forward to a year of meaningful profit growth in 2022/23,” said David Potts, chief executive, Morrisons. "The pandemic is not yet over, but it is in retreat across Britain and there is much to be positive about as something approaching normal life begins to take shape.”

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